Gays can change, says Columbia University professor's study
Robert L. Spitzer, the Columbia University psychiatry professor who convinced the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in 1973, is now stirring controversy again by saying that homosexuals can change their orientation—if they want to. "The subjects' self-reports of change appear to be, by and large, valid, rather than gross exaggerations, brain-washing or wishful thinking," he summarizes. Spitzer interviewed 153 men and 47 women who said counseling had helped to change their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. ABCNews sums up the data: "66 percent of the men and 44 percent of women reached what he called good heterosexual functioning — a sustained, loving heterosexual relationship within the past year, getting enough emotional satisfaction to rate at least a seven on a 10-point scale."

Spitzer says that his findings "should not be misused to justify coercive treatment," but also criticizes the routine claim that therapy aimed at changing orientation can lead to extreme depression and suicidal tendencies. Instead, Spitzer says, many of his subjects had experienced depression and suicidal thoughts "precisely because they had previously thought there was no hope for them, and they had been told by many mental health professionals that there was no hope for them, they had to just learn to live with their homosexual feelings."

Gay activists say the study is taintedbecause 43 percent of those Spitzer studied had been referred to him by Christian ex-gay ministries like Exodus International. "It's snake oil, it's not science," says David Elliot, communications director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Spitzer, who identifies himself as a "Jewish, atheist, secular humanist," is presenting his findings today at the American Psychiatric Association's annual meeting, where another studywill contradict Spitzer's findings. New York City psychologists Ariel Shidlo and Michael Schroeder surveyed 202 gay men and lesbians who had been through "reparative therapy," and found that 178 had failed to change their orientation, 18 became asexual or conflicted, and six reported becoming heterosexual.

Pilot of plane shot down in Peru, leaves hospital
Kevin Donaldson, the missionary pilot whose leg was fractured when the Peruvian military shot at his plane, left the hospital yesterday. He told reporters that he's not angry at all at the pilot who shot him. In fact, his heart—and that of his wife, Bobbi, go out to him. "We heard (the pilot) is really broken up about it and we don't want him to feel guilty," Bobbi Donaldson told the Associated Press. So the couple sent him a Bible.

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Stryper returns
Stryper, the Christian metal band that became an icon of the Christian rock scene in the 1980s, is back. And it's hard to tell if they're kidding or not. Azusa Pacific University is hosting the second annual Stryper Expo May 19, "where fans will sell and trade Stryper dolls, T-shirts, bootlegs, and other memorabilia" according to CDNow. (They'll also be playing the Cornerstone music festival in July). Recalls drummer Robert Sweet, "A lot of people couldn't get past the fact that we were Christian. They either thought we weren't really Christian or that we weren't really musicians. At some shows, there were people who couldn't wait to spit, and I could feel the spit running down my face when we played. Or I'd feel a fist swing and miss me by an inch. Or someone would hold up a sign saying 'Jesus Christ sucks.' That was the biggest obstacle. But that's because it was real. If we had been a gimmick, there wouldn't have been that fervor." Sweet is convinced that the success of Creed, P.O.D., and other Christian acts in the mainstream mean the band won't face that kind of animosity any more. "The doors are beginning to open for some of our kind of music," he says. "I just think it's an injustice for us not to go out there again." Um, the doors may be opening to Christians in mainstream music, but Weblog thinks they shut to Stryper's "kind of music" about 13 years ago.

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